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An Austrian Airlines Airbus A320 touches down. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Austrian Airlines Ramping Up Flights for Winter Tourism

As airlines worldwide prepare for a likely travel boom this winter, Austrian Airlines is making an aggressive return to international operations. With a focus on long-haul flights to sunny destinations, the carrier is reintroducing routes to Cancún, Mexico, Mauritius and Cape Town, South Africa, and is increasing its flight frequency to Malé, Maldives.

Focus on Winter Sun Destinations

Vienna-based Austrian Airlines is confident that the demand for travel and tourism will increase by this fall, considering many people will be desperate for a beach vacation after 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions.

Austrian CCO Michael Trestl is optimistic about the industry’s future, especially with the vaccine rollout. He said, “People are longing for vacations, long-distance travel and the sea. That’s why we will be focusing on attractive long-haul destinations in the coming winter flight schedule to satisfy our passengers’ desire to travel. I am confident that by then many people worldwide will have been vaccinated that travel will once again be possible without severe restrictions.”

So far, Austrian has announced plans to fly to Cancún, Mauritius and Cape Town from its base in Vienna as part of its “comprehensive tourism offensive” to winter sun destinations. The most notable route is from Vienna to Cancún, which has not operated since 2006. According to Routesonline, passenger traffic between Vienna and Cancún in 2019 totaled 22,200, which was second behind the Vienna-Mexico City route, which saw 22,700 passengers. All of these passengers flew on indirect routes, so Austrian is likely hoping to capitalize on that market with a nonstop option.

The route will launch on October 24 with two weekly flights. Both will operate on a Boeing 777. Here are route details:

  • Vienna to Cancun: Flight 61 on Thursdays and Sundays departing at 10:40 a.m. and arriving at 4:10 p.m.
  • Cancun to Vienna: Flight 62 on Thursdays and Sundays departing at 6:05 p.m. and arriving at 11:30 a.m. the next day

Flights to Male, Cape Town and Mauritius

As part of its tourism offensive, Austrian is also focusing on flights to Cape Town, Mauritius and Malé, Maldives. Cape Town and Mauritius were on Austrian’s route map pre-pandemic but are returning this fall with twice-weekly and thrice-weekly flights, respectively. Also, as part of its “vacation offensive in the cold season,” the carrier is increasing its flight frequency to Malé from two to three weekly flights. All three routes will also operate on a Boeing 777.

The increased frequencies and new routes suggest Austrian is optimistic about the future of international travel. However, a spike in COVID-19 cases in many European countries has slowed Austrian’s recovery. Nevertheless, based on bookings on its website, Austrian expects a surge in passenger traffic later this year.

Trestl explained, “The booking situation for this year’s holiday season is showing a positive development. The offering of long-haul flights will also be increased starting at Easter. New bookings for the peak season are being registered every day, for example, lately a 50 percent increase in new bookings for June through August in the last two weeks, compared to bookings in January for the same period. In turn, this makes the management of Austria’s flag carrier optimistic for the future.”

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